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Ranked: Global Airlines with the Most Plane Crashes

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

A bar chart showing the most plane crashes by airlines, current up to September 2023.

Ranked: Global Airlines With the Most Plane Crashes

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Before flight was even invented, humans have been fascinated by the vast skies above them, and for obvious reasons. There is inherent marvel in defying something as fundamental as gravity; in quite literally, reaching for the stars.

And from the early days of military use, the aviation industry is now critical to the movement of goods and people around the world.

Nevertheless, there are accidents, and while few and far between, their scale and tragedy tend to leave a big impact on collective psyches. But which airline companies have seen the most number of incidents?

Using research published by Executive Flyers on September 19, 2023, we rank global airlines based on the number of their plane crashes.

Which Global Airline Has Had the Most Crashes?

Air France and American Airlines tie for most plane crashes, with 11 each.

Notably two of American’s incidents happened on September 11th, 2001, as did two from United Airlines’ seven crashes.

RankAirlineNumber of
plane crashes
1American Airlines11
1Air France11
2China Airlines9
2Korean Air9
3Pakistan International Airlines8
4United Airlines7
5Egyptair6
5Ethiopian Airlines6
5Thai Airways6
6American Eagle5
6Continental Airlines5
6Lufthansa5

Note: American Eagle is the brand name of a regional branch of American Airlines. Continental Airlines merged with United in 2012.

China Airlines and Korean Air also tie with nine crashes each, followed by Pakistan International Airlines with eight accidents.

While many plane crashes do not result in fatalities, here are some examples that were particularly deadly:

  • Air France: In June 2009, Flight 477 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing all 228 onboard.
  • Air China: In May 2002, Flight 611 disintegrated mid-air due to repair faults, killing all 225 onboard.
  • United Airlines: In Sept 1965, Flight 389 crashed while landing in Salt Lake City, killing 43 of 91 passengers.
  • Thai Airlines: In Aug 1987, Flight 365 crashed near Phuket, killing all 83 onboard.

The much-covered disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in 2014 prompted an overhaul of airline regulations and safety measures including better satellite tracking and improved training for crews during emergency situations.

And aside from pilot error, aircraft models themselves can often be the cause of accidents. Two Boeing 737 Max planes crashed in 2018–19, stemming from issues with the model’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System system, a flight control software designed to prevent stalls.

Finally, hostile airspace has also caused aircraft accidents. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 were shot down by Russian separatist forces and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in 2014 and 2020 respectively.

How Safe is Air Travel?

It is useful to remember however that airlines have suffered a very small number of accidents throughout history. Considering there are tens of millions of flights per year, major crashes are actually extremely rare.

“If you take one flight a day, you would, on average, need to fly every day for 55,000 years before being involved in a fatal crash.” — Arnold Barnett, Professor of Statistics at MIT, via ABC News.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. has gone nearly 15 years without a major commercial airline crash, despite the more than 100 million flights and 10 billion passengers since then.

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Ranked: The World’s Top Flight Routes, by Revenue

In this graphic, we show the highest earning flight routes globally as air travel continued to rebound in 2023.

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The World’s Top Flight Routes, by Revenue

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2024, a record 4.7 billion people are projected to travel by air—200 million more than in 2019.

While revenues surged to an estimated $896 billion globally last year, airlines face extremely slim margins. On average, they made just $5.44 in net profit per passenger in 2023. Today, the industry faces pressures from high interest rates, supply chain woes, and steep infrastructure costs.

This graphic shows the highest earning flight routes worldwide, based on data from OAG.

The Top Revenue-Generating Routes in 2023

Below, we show the airline routes with the highest revenues in the first half of 2023:

Route Airport CodesRevenue H1 2023
Sydney to MelbourneSYD-MEL$1.21B
New York to LondonJFK-LHR$1.15B
Riyadh to JeddahRUH-JED$1.03B
Dubai to RiyadhDXB-RUH$990M
Los Angeles to New York LAX-JFK$801M
San Francisco to NewarkSFO-EWR$722M
Newark to Los AngelesEWR-LAX$682M
Singapore to SydneySIN-SYD$650M
New York to Paris JFK-CDG$647M
Perth to MelbournePER-MEL$642M

As we can see, domestic flights comprised six of the 10 largest revenue-generating flights, with Sydney to Melbourne ranking first overall, at $1.21 billion.

In fact, this route is earning more than twice that of pre-pandemic levels, even as the number of passengers declined. The flight route is largely dominated by Qantas and Virgin Australia, with Qantas achieving record-breaking domestic earnings margins of 18% in the fiscal year ending in June 2023. Lower fuel costs and soaring ticket prices were key factors in driving revenues.

Furthermore, Qantas and Virgin Australia are major carriers for flights between Melbourne and Perth, another top-earning route.

New York to London, one of the busiest and most profitable routes globally, generated $1.15 billion in revenues, representing a 37% increase compared to the same period in 2019. Overall, the flight route had 3.88 million scheduled airline seats for the full year of 2023.

The highest revenue increase over this period was for flights from Dubai to Riyadh, with revenues surging 416% year-over-year. This two-hour flight, a highly lucrative route between major financial centers, is one of the busiest in the Middle East.

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